Due to a recent restructuring at my firm, I have acquired a substantial new caseload.
Following qualification the vast majority of my cases have been children matters. In contrast, my new files are some divorces but mostly finances.
During my training, I had considerable exposure to (what was then) Ancillary Relief matters. As it happened, qualification coincided almost exactly to the day with the introduction of FPR 2011 and so I come back to finances after a few months away not only a bit rusty generally but also with a whole new terminology and procedure (matrimonial orders and MIAMS the two most obvious examples).
I must admit, whilst I have been immersed in children work I found myself becoming a little bit sniffy about finance cases. I've caught myself of a couple of occasions referring to them as being boring and dry. I'm not quite sure how I came to that way of thinking, but I was completely wrong - just a few days back in and I'm hooked. Piles of bank statements and pension calculations don't excite me in themselves, but when you can apply some creative thinking and engage in meaningful negotiation then it can be exceptionally rewarding work. There is something incredibly satisfying about achieving a fair and sensible financial settlement - even more so when the parties also see it that way! There is also considerable diversity within each file as well and, even where there is sufficient in the matrimonial pot to split, the current financial climate continues to throw up considerable challenges. This week alone I have been advising clients in fairly unusual circumstances, one where a party has applied for a financial order some 20 years after the divorce was finalised and the other in which all the assets are held in Australia.
What I'm particularly excited about is that, for the first time, I now have a caseload touching the full spectrum of family law. Whilst on the face of it there is very little in common between, for example, considering local authority care plans or negotiating a pension sharing agreement, one thing I am sure is that this across the board experience will only serve to make me a better lawyer in the future. And at this uncertain time for all family law professionals, there can be no harm in keeping your skill set as wide as possible.
Kate Gomery has recently qualified as a family law solicitor. She works at Heaney Watson in Liverpool where she is exposed to all types of family law work but particularly publicly funded family law cases. Prior to qualification Kate spent several years doing general crime and then serious fraud work. She trained at Pannone in Manchester.
The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.